Checking Your Vehicle's Tires Regularly During the Hot Summer Months is Critical to Highway Safety

tire failure caused by tread separations, blowouts, bald tires, and underinflated tires leads to approximately 11,000 crashes every year

Checking Your Vehicle's Tires Regularly During the Hot Summer Months is Critical to Highway Safety
Image: Pexels
June 14, 2018

Hot weather and underinflated tires are an extremely dangerous combination.

During the hot summer months, while vehicles are being driven at highway speeds, the extreme heat and hot roadways contribute to the breakdown of tires and lead to a greater likelihood of tire failure.

11,000 Crashes Every Year

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that tire failure causes approximately 11,000 crashes every year.

The most common causes of failure include tread separations, blowouts, bald tires, and underinflated tires. Underinflation also leads to poor fuel economy, sluggish handling, longer stopping distances, and increased stress on tire components.

Proper Pressure

Proper pressure is the most important part of maintaining a vehicle's tires. Properly maintained tires improve the steering, stopping, traction, and load carrying capability of vehicles and can improve gas mileage by as much as 3.3 percent.

Tire Safety Recommendations

To prevent tire failure during the summer and all year—follow these tire safety recommendations:

  • Follow the recommended tire pressure in pounds-per-square-inch (PSI) for your vehicle. This vital information is found on the vehicle placard typically inside the car door and in the vehicle owner's manual.
  • Purchase a tire pressure gauge to keep in your vehicle at all times. Tires lose one PSI every month, so it is important to check your tires monthly to ensure proper inflation.
  • If your vehicle is equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS), know where the TPMS warning is on your dashboard, and take action if you receive a warning.
  • Check your vehicle owner's manual for specific recommendations for tire replacement for your vehicle. Some vehicle manufacturers recommend six years, some tire manufacturers recommend 10 years as the maximum service life for tires, including spares.
  • Monitor the tread on all tires on your vehicle. Tires with tread worn down to 2/32 of an inch or less are not safe and should be replaced.
  • Look for treadwear indicators – raised sections spaced throughout the bottom of the tread grooves. When they appear it is time to replace your tires.
  • Try the penny test. Place a penny in the tread of your tires with Lincoln's head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, your tire has less than 2/32 of an inches of tread and you are ready for new tires.
  • Always remember that seatbelts are your best defense in a crash.

For more tips and information about tire safety, visit safercar.gov/tire.